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Was the visit by Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to the Middle
Was the visit by Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to the Middle East a success? What can be considered a success in this region in the given situation?

Now, right after the trip many of his statements seem more like riddles. On the eve of his visit Lavrov said that his main goal was to find out whether regional leaders would like to hold a Mid-Eastern conference in Moscow. But it is unclear, at least for the public at large, when it will be held or whether it will take place at all.

All Arab leaders with whom Lavrov met favor the idea of the proposed conference, but the Israelis do not, at least for the time being. The Israeli media report that after talking with the Russian minister, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said that he saw no point in one more go-between move at this stage. He reasoned that the Israelis are negotiating with the Palestinians directly, they don't need more outside aid, and that the Moscow forum would not be useful at this point. But Olmert did not dismiss the idea out of hand.

Russia has always emphasized that peace settlement and final decisions depend on the direct participants in the conflict of the Palestinians and Israelis, regardless of the efforts international mediators may make. Lavrov reiterated this idea in Tel Aviv.

During his visit, he stressed that a decision on the conference would be made in the near future, and that Moscow had not yet sent out the invitations. Now the sides are finishing their consultations in the region and analyzing the positions of the potential participants. He was very cautious, which is natural, considering that the situation in the region may change any minute.

The future of the conference and the Palestinian-Israeli talks depends on whether the Palestinian movements Fatah and Hamas will come to terms and on how long this peace will last. Unlike Washington, Moscow has always said that talks about peace between the two sides were useless unless the Palestinians unite. Although both Palestinian movements have resumed dialogue and agreed to discuss the Yemeni president's initiative on their reconciliation, it is not clear whether these moves will end in success. But Lavrov was happy to learn about the start of their dialogue during his trip.

Having told journalists in Damascus about his talks with Khaled Mashaal, head of Hamas' Syrian branch, Lavrov emphasized that "more and more countries are becoming aware of the need to restore Palestinian unity.... This is a gradual and slow process. We are witnessing these attitudes in Europe and other regions. This is a realistic, pragmatic and responsible approach."

This was one of Lavrov's most important statements during his visit. He did not specify which countries and regions he meant. So far, Israel and the United States have vehemently opposed the idea of Hamas-Fatah reconciliation and participation in the talks in a united front. Recently, Washington has been mostly silent.

But there is an indicative fact - Mahmoud Abbas, head of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) and Fatah leader, has sent the group's spokesmen to meet with Hamas in Yemen. In the past, he always rejected the idea of talks without preconditions out of hand, with Washington's full support. What has changed since then? This is one more riddle.

Be that as it may, but before the outcome of the Palestinian talks becomes clear, it will not be possible to say anything definite about the Moscow conference.

But despite many vague issues, Lavrov's visit was a success. Russia has confirmed its high level of relations both with Israel and the Arab world. Indicatively, Israeli politicians did not refuse to see the Russian minister although he had just parted with one of their main enemies - Mashaal. Before, Israel strongly criticized all Lavrov-Mashaal meetings. Apparently, the Israelis appreciate what the Russian minister brought from his talks with this Palestinian leader in Damascus and his meetings with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Lavrov has fulfilled his main mission of a mediator. Now everything depends on the regional players. Moscow will wait for the outcome of their talks.

The opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.


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